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When it comes to attending weddings, many Canadians aren’t feeling the love. Once you tally up the cost of a dress or tux, a wedding gift, transportation and accommodations (if you’re coming in from out of town), a shower gift, and other miscellaneous expenses, it can be a pricey affair ― and a source of financial stress.

In fact, according to a survey from RetailMeNot, 54 per cent of Canadians said weddings are a financial burden for guests while as many as 18 per cent declined an invitation because they couldn’t afford to attend. But before you RSVP no, consider these 7 ways to cut costs when attending a wedding:


The Knot Survey
  1. Budget for wedding season: It’s a good idea to include a line in your budget for gifts for weddings, so when your mailbox starts filling up with invitations in the spring and summer seasons, you’ll have some money set aside to cover some of the costs. You can also be somewhat selective about the weddings you choose to attend. Don’t feel like you have to say ‘I do’ to every invitation that comes your way. Try to stick to close friends and relatives and politely decline other wedding invitations.
  2. Recycle your outfit: Unless you’re a celebrity on the red carpet, no one will likely remember if you’re wearing an outfit you’ve worn before. All eyes will be on the happy couple, after all. Consider investing in a high-quality suit or classic black dress (hint: hit the sale racks), and switch up your shoes and accessories to update your look. If you really want to wear something new, you can make a little extra cash by selling your old suits and dresses at a consignment shop. You can also rent a dress for a low-cost, low-commitment way to make a big impact at an event.
  3. Look for ways to save on travel: If the wedding is out of town, chances are the couple will have blocked off a set of hotel rooms at a reduced rate. Book early to help save on travel costs and accommodations. If you’re single, consider sharing a room with a friend and splitting the cost. You can also try Airbnb, which offers single rooms, apartments and entire homes (perfect for a big group of friends) at every budget. If the wedding is in town, you can carpool, use public transportation if available, or split the cost of a cab or Uber car service with friends to avoid parking fees.
  4. Purchase a gift as a group: Pool your money and buy a big gift with your friends or family for the shower and/or wedding. This way, you can purchase a bigger-ticket item off the registry (or contribute a nice amount to their honeymoon fund) without blowing your budget.
  5. Be a smart shopper: If you want to buy a gift on your own, shop early! Get first pick of the couple’s registry so you can find a gift your budget will love. Late to the game? Keep your eyes open for coupons and sales. You wouldn’t be alone, as more than 50 per cent of Canadians admit to having purchased a gift on sale. If you must go off-registry, look for a thoughtful and memorable gift, such as a lovely framed portrait, custom champagne flutes, or a themed gift basket you know they’ll love.
  6. Prioritize your parties: You don’t have to feel obligated to attend every celebration leading up to the main event. If you simply can’t afford another gift or outfit for a wedding shower, bachelorette or engagement party, it’s perfectly acceptable to politely decline an event. Or, if you’d love to be there but another gift just isn’t in your budget, be honest with the bride or groom. They’ll likely understand and will still want the opportunity to celebrate with you. Plus, you can always offer to help decorate, bake or join the clean-up crew.
  7. Offer your services: Whether it’s your profession or a hobby, is there something you’re really good at that could help out the soon-to-be newlyweds on their big day? Your gift to the happy couple could be doing the flower arrangements, taking photographs, making invitations or party favours for the guests, designing a wedding website, or singing or playing music at the event. It’s a nice way to give something memorable that won’t cost you more than your time.

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